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Clemson Ready for What’s Next

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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Get ready; Clemson is peaking at the right time.

Ahead of the postseason, a stretch which will include an ACC Championship Game tilt with Virginia next weekend and, one would think, a fifth-consecutive appearance in the College Football Playoff, Clemson is playing its best football of the year. A convincing 38-3 win at rival South Carolina included, the defending national champions have won six consecutive games by at least 35 points. The Tigers, since their close call at North Carolina in late September, have outscored their opponents 353-to-61, a weekly average of 50-9.

Get ready; Clemson is peaking at the right time. 

Critics can talk about Clemson's schedule, though the Tigers played two SEC opponents out of conference, holding them to a combined 13 points; what nobody can question are the end results. Clemson's 38 points scored in Columbia on Saturday are the team's fewest going back to the dramatic 21-20 win in Chapel Hill. The last time the Tigers even allowed a touchdown was way back on November 9th. Clemson's ended the regular season outgaining South Carolina 527 yards to 174, 30 first downs to 9; relatively-speaking, it was a modest showing.

Remarkably, the Tigers have now won 27 games in a row and 33-of-34 overall. Only once in the last 22 games, the most recent national title game included, has Clemson even been played within 20 points. What Dabo Swinney has is a modern-day dynasty, one showing no signs of slowing down. In fact, with another 12-0 effort in the rear-view mirror, these Tigers are just now settling in.      

Clemson's performance in Columbia was another showcase for quarterback Trevor Lawrence. The superstar sophomore completed 26-of-36 passes for 295 yards and three touchdowns. Lawrence also led the Tigers with 66 yards rushing, setting a new career high. His top perimeter options, Tee Higgins and Justyn Ross, both scored and topped the 100-yard mark. The tone-setter for Clemson, Lawrence now has 16 passing touchdowns and zero interceptions over his last five games. He and the Tigers have momentum alike.

Though Virginia will be a formidable opponent in the ACC Championship Game, Clemson will, again, enter the league title bout as the obvious and overwhelming favorite. A year ago, the Tigers scored a touchdown against Pittsburgh on the very first play from scrimmage and held the Panthers to eight yards passing. Swinney's side then went on to beat Notre Dame and Alabama by a combined score of 74-19. 

Clearly, Clemson is coming. After another statement win, the Tigers are ready for what awaits.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports